Education, Health, and Safety

New Study Shows Upward Trend in Suicide Risk for LGBTQ+ Youth

In a new study by the Trevor Project earlier this week, the LGBTQ+ youth suicide prevention and mental health organization found that there has been an upward trend in suicidal thoughts among queer youth, many of whom are trans youth and queer youth of color.

“The Trevor Project’s research demonstrates that suicidal thoughts have trended upward among LGBTQ young people over the last three years, making our life-saving work all the more important. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and relentless political attacks during this time period cannot be understated,” said Amit Paley, CEO and executive director of The Trevor Project, in a press release.

The findings are part of the group’s 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, which included responses from almost 34,000 LGBTQ+ youth across the country between the ages of 13 and 24. The group said 45 percent of respondents were youth of color while 48 percent identified as trans or nonbinary, making it “one of the most diverse surveys of LGBTQ youth ever conducted.”

The new data show that 45 percent of respondents have considered attempting suicide in the last year. Over half of transgender and nonbinary youth have done so (53 percent), while 33 percent of cisgender queer youth have. The Trevor Project also found that many young people are reporting high levels of anxiety (73 percent) and depression (58 percent).

However, it found that 60 percent of those who wanted mental health care couldn’t secure it. The reasons for that included fears of discussing mental health, concerns over parental permission, fears of not being taken seriously, and lack of financial ability, according to the study.

“It’s essential to emphasize that we still do not have known counts or registries of the LGBTQ youth population, and comprehensive, intersectional data on their mental health outcomes remain limited,” Paley said. “Our annual national survey strives to fill in these gaps and amplify the experiences of young LGBTQ people, a marginalized group consistently found to be at significantly increased risk for suicide because of how they are mistreated and stigmatized in society.”

The Trevor Project also found that those with more marginalized identities reported a greater suicide risk. For instance, 19 percent of trans and nonbinary youth have attempted suicide in the last year; 9 percent of cisgender lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer youth have.

The rate of attempting suicide among LGBTQ+ youth of color was higher than those of white LGBTQ+ youth (10 percent).  According to the study, 21 percent of Native/Indigenous youth, 20 percent of Middle Eastern/Northern African youth, 19 percent of Black youth, 17 percent of multiracial youth, 16 percent of Latinx youth, and 12 percent of Asian/Pacific Islander youth have attempted suicide over the past year.

“Lumping diverse youth into broad identity categories and applying single-size approaches does a disservice to everyone, and makes our work to end LGBTQ youth suicide even harder. This year’s findings emphasize the importance of intersectionality in research, particularly among a community as diverse as LGBTQ youth, as disparities in mental health and suicide risk were found across race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity,” Myeshia Price, senior research scientist for The Trevor Project, said. “We urge fellow researchers to include expansive identity terminology in all youth survey research, and for public health officials and youth-serving organizations to tailor services to meet LGBTQ youth’s unique needs. Only then will we be able to better understand and support the young people who need us most.”

If you or someone you know are feeling distressed, call the National Suicide Hotline at (800) 273-8255. If you are an LGBTQ+ youth and need help, you can reach out to The Trevor Project at (866) 488-7386 or text 678678 to talk to someone 24/7.

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